Domestic travel expands during New Year holiday

Staff writer, with CNA

Wed, Feb 20, 2013 - Page 14

The number of people who traveled domestically during the just-ended Lunar New Year holiday hit a record high of around 14.8 million, owing to a longer-than-usual holiday period and moderate weather, the Tourism Bureau said on Monday.

The nation saw a 28.38 percent year-on-year jump in the volume of domestic travelers during the holiday from Feb. 9 to Feb. 17, which generated more than NT$10 billion (US$336 million), the bureau added.

The most popular travel destinations during the holiday were in southern Taiwan, with 5.36 million visitors flocking to the region, accounting for 36 percent of domestic travel, according to bureau statistics.

The Buddha Memorial Center of Fo Guang Shan Monastery (佛光山) in Greater Kaohsiung, the Daitian Temple (代天府) in Greater Tainan’s Nankunshen (南鯤鯓) and the E-Da World (義大世界) theme park in Greater Kaohsiung topped the list of the most popular tourist spots.

Meanwhile, the bureau said that a total of 23 amusement parks across Taiwan had cashed in NT$540 million during the holiday period, a 26.8 percent increase from last year.

Separately, the bureau said that the nation’s tourist hotels — the 108 hotels that are regulated by the Tourism Bureau –– generated record sales last year thanks to the rapid growth in the number of foreign visitors arriving in Taiwan.

Revenues at these hotels rose by 4.82 percent last year to more than NT$52.5 billion, according to bureau figures, and the number of nights guests stayed also rose, increasing 504,235, or 4.83 percent.

Growth in the two indicators lagged behind the 20.1 percent increase in total international arrivals last year, in part because Chinese tourists, who generated much of the increase, generally stayed in less expensive business hotels, the bureau said.

The limited number of hotel rooms on offer in the sector also contributed to the lower revenue and guest growth last year.

The bureau has promoted travel in Taiwan in an attempt to encourage more people to visit, and hopes to attract 10 million foreign visitors to Taiwan in 2016, up from the record 7.3 million reached last year.

However, the bureau is also trying to improve the quality of accommodation for visitors by motivating hoteliers to renovate their facilities and upgrade services.

According to the Travel Quality Assurance Association (旅行品質保障協會), most complaints received from Chinese visitors, who accounted for more than a third, or 2.5 million of Taiwan’s foreign visitors last year, were related to quality issues.